Sister goldenhair wore out her welcome.
She stayed too long in the basement
doing her makeup, trying on
different dresses, shoes,
scarves. Nothing worked.
She never left.
I would like to give her a hug right now,
but I can’t. She left on a stretcher
brought to our house by the
coroner. For some reason,
they wear white gloves
and solemn faces.
If it weren’t for basketball, I don’t how I would have made it through 50 winters.
Right now, on my radio stations, it’s Michigan 50, Michigan State 47 from Madison Square Garden in New York City. In the next game, it’s Purdue vs. Penn State. If the Boilers win, my daughter who left the nest for Queens is gonna go to the championship game on Sunday. She’ll go on our WJOB media passes. That makes me smile. Jeanie will have to call the show on Monday morning with a report. I’ll get to hear her voice.
It’s Saturday of sectionals week. I have announced five games from the Lake Central sectional. There is one more to go. Tonight in the final it’s Morton vs. Lake Central. You should have seen the endings to the semifinal games last night.
My bad. You can see the endings of last night’s games. Just go to the WJOB Facebook page.
There’s Kris Mingo hitting a runner with 2.6 seconds left to lift Morton over East Chicago Central. It was an improbable shot. Mingo shot while running full speed, almost a hook shot. The ball hit the back of the rim, the backboard, some more rim…
and then fell through. I got a pretty good look at the whole thing. Our announcers’ booth is in the corner of the gym level with the top of the backboard. When Mingo shot it, I thought – “No way.”
But that was before Robert Hall intervened. He’s the Morton coach who died in the middle of the season. Coach Hall served in the Hammond school system for decades. He got sick near the beginning of the season and died in early January. His longtime confidante, Scott Lush, took over. Morton hasn’t won a sectional since 1976.
If you ask me, Lake Central is the clear favorite tonight. At 3500 students, it’s one of the biggest schools in the state. They have plenty of kids to choose from. For the life of me, I can’t believe there’s not one 6-foot-7 kid walking around who could get them some rebounds.
Statistically, it’s an anomaly. Still, with Justin Graciano and Keon Sellers down low, Lake Central wins by 20.
It’s not just Morton and coach Hall. There’s another compelling story. It’s with the Lake Central Indians. Last night, the score was tied at 47 and Lake Central had the ball with six seconds left. A sophomore guard named Derek Hobbes passed the ball to another sophomore, Nick Anderson, way in the corner. As Anderson was falling out of bounds, he shot the ball. It was a high, arching shot that took forever to come down.
When it did, it went right through the hoop. A direct swish. Anderson, from the momentum, fell into the second row of the Lake Central bench. The student section, flooded on the court. A mass of blue and white jumped up and down in unfettered ecstasy.
We got it all on camera and you can watch it if you’d like. In one night, we caught two great finishes in Hoosier Hysteria. I couldn’t have asked for more, except of course, a Munster victory.
There is irony here. The kid who hit the shot, Nick Anderson, is the son of Kevin, whom I played high school basketball with at Munster in the late 70s. I was pissed, certainly, that my alma mater got beat at the buzzer. And I was even a little pissed that it was my buddy Kevin’s son who did it.
But that faded quickly. After we put our equipment to bed, I walked across the court to where Kevin and his family were hanging out. I ran into coach Marcinek.
“How’d you like my grandson’s shot?” he asked me.
I shook my head. I didn’t comprehend.
“Oh my god. I forgot that you’re a Marcinek,” I said to Kevin’s wife as she walked up. I still hadn’t come up to my friend from high school. He was facing the other way talking to someone. I didn’t see the cane.
Then it hit me. Not only did I not remember that Anderson married a Marcinek, I had forgotten that my high school forward had had some major health issues. I congratulated the proud papa. With the cane in the way, he struggled to grapple with his phone to enter my cell number.
It was then that I felt bad about throwing my headset down after Nick Anderson’s miracle shot. The Anderson-Marcinek family has gone through hell, and they’re really good people. They deserved last night.
So tonight, it’s the unseen spirit of coach Robert Hall vs. Lake Central, a possible team of destiny. This is the first time ever that this sectional has been held in the hinterlands of St. John, Indiana. For decades, it’s been in Gary or East Chicago where there’s steel mills, refineries, railroad tracks and never-ending power lines. Tonight, if you go, it’ll be fast food restaurants, car dealerships, vestiges of forgotten farm fields, and a huge backup on US 41 at 6:30pm as the championship game of Class 4A, sectional 1, is about to begin. I’ll be there. You should be, too.
… There is so much noise in this world. There really is. Sometimes when I sit in my underwear on the bed to type, I can feel it. Please don’t hold it against me, but I sometimes feel a connection with people like John Fante, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joan Didion, Bukowski, Roth, Conrad, Dickens. They relax me. I don’t why. They just do.
Sometimes, these silent friends point things out that make sense. Here’s one from Philip Roth. If you don’t know who he is, that may be because you picked up his worst book, The Human Stain, read it, and said to yourself.
“Shoot me if I ever read a Philip Roth book again.”
Don’t hold that against him. Everyone has a bad game. On Wednesday night, Crown Point scored 15 points in the first three quarters of their sectional game at Lake Central. Everyone has an off night.
Roth wrote that in 1970, six years before Morton won their last sectional. I won’t patronize you by noting that Roth, if he were alive, could have written the same thing today. Don’t you feel it, though? I feel it. I hear it every morning on the radio. I feel it from people in the canned goods aisle at Strack’s. Something is wrong. I can’t tell what it is.
I did read yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech touting his new nuclear weapons. Evidently, they have bombs that could go over the top of the world, around Cape Horn, and directly in to your living room in Topeka, Kansas. How’s that make you feel?
I can’t help thinking that we’re in our
Something’s gonna blow us up. We’re
all gonna be gone,
Isn’t there a way to get some
foreshadowing on this?
We have, as a race, the ability
to blow ourselves up
many times over.
Maybe that’s what happens to
planets. After a few million
years a species develops
that can blow itself up.
And then they do. They
always do. There’s someone
somewhere at a much
higher pay scale than
you and me.
“Any minute now, them
there on that planet in
the Milky Way is gonna
blow themselves up, just like
Alpha Chrometer Z-14
Who would God be then?
It wouldn’t be one person
or being. It would be a
whole species. They’d be
the ones who figured
out how to not blow
With all of the noise, it’s easy to understand what Roth felt in the 1960s and 70s. With the Vietnam War going on and protests everywhere, there was:
From Whiting, it’s the Catholic War- Bishop Noll vs. Andrean. One of these Catholic schools is on the west side of the county. The other’s on the East. They hate each other. I joked that I would announce that game, displacing the team of Ryan Walsh and Dan Repay. I could. It’s my toy. But I won’t. They deserve it.
That’s it for now. On our radio station right now the Penn State vs. Purdue game is about to start. Larry Klisby is telling us what the Bolers have to do to win in the Garden.
Alexis and I went to game in which Purdue slipped past Penn State. “Man, I hope we don’t have to face Penn State in the Big Ten tournament,” I said to Alexis on the drive up I-65. “He’s the best player in the Big Ten.”
And he is. I just hope that the teamwork of the four seniors at Purdue
can overcome one really good player. Probably not. My predictions:
These are not the outcomes that I want in. But I am one of the longest-running AP voters in the state of Indiana. That doesn’t happen by voting your heart. You watch enough basketball games and you get a feel for the future. You don’t know what’s gonna happen next – especially in the Indiana high school boys tournament – but you get a feel for it.
Michigan 75, Michigan State 64. Final. Talk to you later.